Some Illinois lawmakers are trying again to give residents the right to carry concealed weapons, but there are doubts their efforts will yield any results.

Bolstered by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer overturning a handgun ban in Washington D.C. and an endorsement of concealed carry by the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association last week, supporters say 2009 might be the year Illinois becomes the 49th state to allow citizens to carry concealed firearms.

“We’re behind the times on this as far as I’m concerned,” said state Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Harrisburg Democrat who is among a handful of lawmakers who have introduced concealed carry legislation.

“I just want it to finally get a hearing in the House,” said state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, who also has introduced legislation.

In general, their bills would allow citizens to get permits to carry concealed firearms, but only after gun owners complete an extensive application process, including training courses in handgun use, safety and marksmanship.

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only states that ban concealed carry of weapons.

The issue, however, appears poised to again stall in the Legislature for many of the same reasons it’s gone nowhere in the past.

New Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, has been a vocal opponent of giving gun owners the right to carry concealed firearms.

As Senate president, Cullerton can control the flow of legislation that is voted on in his chamber. A spokeswoman said Monday that Cullerton is reserving judgment on the proposals until he sees if any legislation actually emerges from the House.

State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said it is doubtful the legislation will go very far.

“Cullerton is never going to call a concealed carry bill in the Senate,” said Mautino. “It’s not going to happen.”

Todd Vandermyde, an Illinois-based lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said Cullerton may change his mind now that he’s moved from being a state senator to his role as president of the Senate.

“He got elected because of downstate guys,” Vandermyde. “We’ll see if that changes his outlook.”

By Kurt Erickson
Source: Pantagraph